Our 1st XI complete their 2019 Lancashire League season with a trip to East Lancs Cricket Club’s Alexandra Meadows HQ.
Our 1st XI welcome Haslingden to Cliffe Park for what is our final home fixture of the 2019 season. The game starts at 1pm.
In the only Lancashire League double header weekend of 2019, conveniently held on the August Bank Holiday, our 1st XI travel to Seedhill to take on Nelson
Local rivals Rishton will arrive at Cliffe Park for a Lancashire League local derby in a game that will decide to which town Lee Lane belongs for the entirety of the 2019 winter. First ball will be at 1pm.
Todays visitors to Cliffe Park are Rawtenstall, who we welcome for a fixture in the Lancashire Cricket League. The game starts at 1pm.
Our 1st XI again play on a Saturday in the Lancashire Cricket League. This time, a trip to Littleborough’s picturesque Hare Hill ground is on the cards, for a fixture which starts at 1pm.
In the Lancashire Cricket League, our 1st XI welcome Milnrow to Cliffe Park. GHCC will be looking for a repeat of what was a comprehensive victory in the 2018 season
In a rare Lancashire League Saturday game, our 1st XI are on their travels to take on Colne. The Horsefield ground that hosts today’s fixture was the venue for our first ever Lancashire League game, which was abandoned due to rain back in April 2017.
Our 1st XI face Enfield in a Lancashire League local derby for the second time this season. This time the game is at our very own Cliffe Park, with a start time of 1pm.
Still reeling from how close we came to beating 2nd placed Middleton last week, on Sunday we travelled to fifth placed Bacup.
Bacup is a place I’ve only ever been to once before, for a night out with our Treasurer and former captain. This was quite an experience, which involved extremely reasonable alcohol prices, wandering around a large town centre genuinely struggling to find places to drink (they’re all in the hills), and then being sent on a wild goose chase by a local which had us waste an hour looking for a seemingly non-existent venue called Diamond Lights.
My lasting impression of the place, admittedly unfairly, is derived from the first half hour of this evening. Walking into the first bar, we were met by an Irish band, complete with bodhran, flutes and banjos, playing a cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit.
As I reached the bar, I was warmly embraced by an oddly attired man with boot polish on his face, who believed me to be an old friend called Eric (thankfully not Dave) and wanted to know where I’d been for the last ten years and how the family were. Despite my assertion that I wasn’t the man he thought I was, he was having none of it. We spoke for ten minutes about past adventures I knew nothing about before we went our separate ways. I was later informed he was one of the famous Coconutters
Anyway, enough of that. The little man and I set off in good time for what would be another new ground for us both. I put TMS on the radio for the World Cup Final (spoiler, we won) and set a course on the sat nav that took us over the back end of nowhere, rolling hills and beautiful scenery. We passed the Singing Ringing Tree, and were dropping down the hill towards Bacup when my phone rang.
Erm, you’ve left his changing bag here.
The prospect of finding a supermarket in a town I once spent an hour looking for a pub didn’t appeal, and the chances of the little man getting through a 50 over cricket game without wanting to be fed or changed was slimmer than Australia’s chances of winning the World Cup, so I turned the car round and headed back. He figured this out, and cried all the way.
Returning home meant we missed the first half hour of play. The club WhatsApp group had informed me that we were batting. No worries, I thought, we’ll only miss the now customary solid if unspectacular start.
WRONG! I parked up to find us 28-4, with the pro out and Allan and Jack battling to try to help us post something respectable. The little man knew, and cried again.
I acquired liquid refreshment, and set off on a lap to see if he would settle and was struck by how friendly the people were. Almost everyone I walked past said hello, despite me having met only three people before, and many were happy to chat about all things cricket. There were a few characters, and all appeared to carry the same nervous excitement I was feeling as the World Cup final played out in the bar.
As I walked round, Allan clubbed a straight six out of the ground, and into a greenhouse. The homeowner was reportedly distinctly unimpressed, but one of the downsides of living near a cricket ground is that if you own anything smashable and don’t protect it, inevitably it will be smashed.
A quirk of Bacup’s ground is that the player’s changing rooms and viewing area is on the opposite side of the ground to the bar. As I made my way around to the base of the steps, I turned around to see a ground that looked at least 3 times the size it did from the bar.
Middle Order Recovery
Wicket, Allan out bowled by the opposing pro for 23, the score having recovered somewhat to 68-5. Kaz Masood joined Jack and the pair added another 7 before Jack fell for 17. Briggs Joined Kaz, and stuck about whilst the latter played a vital innings, together they continued the good work of Allan and Jack, and the score passed 100 before Briggs holed out for 9. Masood continued to a GHCC best of 35, and with Paul Clifford adding 11, we set a much more competitive looking 141.
Over tea, the players watched as New Zealand closed their innings, setting England 241 to become champions. Was it enough? Was our score enough? I pointed out to anyone that would listen, that they had come within one wicket of beating a team higher in the table just last week when defending a lower total than that set today. Analysis of Bacup’s performances this season had indicated the bulk of their runs had come from the openers, one in particular, and the professional, Serasinghe, who leads the league for runs scored. If we could get these two out, I felt we had every chance.
We opened the bowling with professional Thikshila de Silva and chairman Stuart Maher. The Bacup openers looked to get after anything loose and whilst the pace of de Silva troubled them, they found Stuart easier to get away, and raced to 32-0 after just 6 overs. The introduction of Paul Newton by Oddie paid instant dividends, Aaron Fielding skying one in his very first over which was well taken by Maher.
His next over saw us claim the vital wicket of Newbitt, caught by Clifford who seemed to initially misjudge the flight, diving full length to catch a ball that dropped where he had been standing.
De Silva was being heckled, every ball, by one man sat by the sightscreen, shouting NO BALL as he started each and every run up. Think Rob Schneider in Happy Gilmore minus the silly hat and Volkswagen.
Serasinghe, another Sri Lankan and a good friend of our former professional Ashen Silva, was getting himself going however, and with number 4 Collinge (4), he added 24. This was looking ominous for a man with 3 100s already this year, and Bacup were only 80 away from their target.
Then, de Silva found a way through, clean bowling him to the absolute delight of the entire team and travelling support. I politely asked his friend if it was a no ball. He didn’t answer.
I lost the next 15 minutes to a particularly difficult car boot nappy change, but when I came out the other side the score was 66-5, Newton had picked up two more wickets, As I set off with the pram again, he took his 5th, our opponents were crumbling.
De Silva then got back into the action, trapping Schofield LBW before bowling Jack Bradford for a second ball duck, and when Newton bowled Ben Lord to claim figures of 6-13 from 7 overs, the writing was on the wall.
All that was left was for de Silva to wrap up the final wicket, bowling Aspinall for a duck and claiming the 12 points for us. No Ball man had disappeared, and Bacup had seen their last 8 wickets fall for just 6 runs.
An exceptional bowling performance, getting the key batsmen early then building pressure to draw wickets.
Man of the match has to go to Newton, but note must be made to the contributions made by Armer, Hussain and particularly Kaz Masood, for leading a recovery from a poor start and putting us in a position to be able to bowl them out.
Oh, and we won the World Cup too. That was nice.
Enfield next week, a team that have struggled recently after a positive start and one that with a few more wins we have a realistic chance of catching. Of course they beat us at their place earlier this year, so we’ll be looking to even the score. Hopefully A.N. Other won’t be turning out for them this time, he was a decent player.
On to the next one.
Our 1st XI travel to Bacup in the Lancashire League and look forwards to the fantastic teas they have provided at Lanehead in previous visits. They will also be playing cricket, with the game starting at 1pm.
A rare Saturday game for our 1st XI this week. Worsley Cup games taking place on the Sunday meant we were straight back at it following a fine victory over East Lancs last week.
Middleton would be the opponents this week. The reversal of the opening day fixture as we move into the second half of the season. We would be hoping for a reversal in outcome too, as we fell short on opening day.
On arrival at the Cliffe, there was already a group of Middleton support in attendance, having arrived on a minibus at the same time as the players.
Into our team came Kaz Masood and Ben Rogers, who would keep wicket on his first XI debut. They took the places of Stuart Maher and Allan Armer.
Batting first, Zeain would be Matt’s opening partner today.
We got off to, in what is becoming a welcome familiar pattern, a solid if unspectacular start, both batsmen adjusting to the conditions and picking up ones and twos wherever possible. Zeain fell to a run out whilst I was changing the little man’s nappy, so I can’t comment other than to say I probably wasn’t the only one feeling a little poo.
This brought professional de Silva to the crease and he and Oddie continued to work the ball into gaps on what had become apparent was a difficult surface. Oddie fell with the score on 33, very soon after followed by de Silva, LBW to a ball that appeared to hit him waist high. He’s not the tallest, but his incredulity at the decision suggested it may have been a little high.
Ethan Houldsworth and Kaz Masood set to rebuild the innings, and took us to 50 before Kaz fell, caught of the Middleton spinner. Jack replaced him, and went soon after, picking his spot to despatch a loopy full toss – and melting it straight at the midwicket fielder, who clung on.
Ethan was next to go, for a very measured and important 44 ball 14, and this brought together the father and son combination of Briggsy and Cockney
They helped us to 74, before Briggs fell, another loose shot trying to pick up the rate helping the spinner Highton to his third wicket. Newton went for a 19 ball duck, before Clifford was adjudged caught behind in another contentious decision. 87-9
An assured rearguard resistance from the increasingly impressive Faheem Basharat and debutant Rogers saw us pass 100, and close without being bowled out, 102-9
The tea break saw an opportunity for me to nip home and pick up my partner and six year old daughter, who were both to attend their first game since the birth of the little man. As I picked them up, I told them we hadn’t scored many runs, but it looked like there might be enough in the wicket for us to get at them, and if we could do so early, we might have a chance. They both looked at me blankly, smiled, and asked if I’d had fun. I assured them I had.
We’d missed a little of the second innings by the time we returned to the ground. Middleton were 36-1, the wicket to fall a stumping by Ben off the bowling of Paul Newton. Nevertheless, it looked as though our opponents were making short work of the target.
As we made it to the balcony…. Bosh! Wicket, stumps flying everywhere. Sanka had cleaned up number three Tierney, 36-2. In came another Tierney whilst the professional Williams was going about his business quietly at the other end.
Helmet strike – the ball beating the batsman, wicketkeeper and hitting the helmet stored behind him. Five penalty runs, not great given the low total, but probably only cost us one more than had it mot been there.
Anyway, the score had moved on to 48, this would be a great time to pick up a wicket. Newton in, bowls, and Williams smashes it straight to de Silva at cover. 48-3.
Bosh! Wicket, stumps flying everywhere. Sanka had cleaned up number four Tierney, 48-4, game on!!
Dempster and Shahid dug in, and rebuilded for Middleton, taking the score to 62 before the former hit Newton upwards and Jack made no mistake.
Bosh! Wicket, stumps flying everywhere. Sanka had cleaned up number six Rutter, 64-6.
Shahid continued unabated, assisted by Reece Jones, and as de Silva and Newton completed their over allocations, it looked as though they’d done enough to see our opponents home.
Kaz Masood replaced Newton and struck immediately. Shahid picked out Briggs who juggled for an age before holding on. When Masood bowled Royle two balls later, we appeared in the ascendancy, 10 runs required, two wickets left.
5 wides didn’t help at this stage, then… Masood in, flick off the legs, and a full length dive from Rogers down the legside that, from the reaction of all of our players, he could only have been inches away from taking.
What could have been a magnificent catch wasn’t, it was 4 runs, levelling the scores.
Faheem into the attack. Wicket LBW!! Even at this late stage there was still fight. Middleton 9 down, and with the last man Highton facing every GHCC player was ready, waiting for a chance.
Left alone – Dot
Swing and a miss – Dot
Solid forward defence – Dot
Swing and a miss – Dot
We lost on a wide. A wide that every player in a suitable position to view, including an extensive cordon and reportedly the two batsmen, were convinced was not a wide.
The game ended therefore in somewhat bizarre circumstances, but well done to Middleton on their win. Very well deserved requiring them to dig very deep. Our team can take pride in a battling performance, one that almost saw us overcome a team that is pushing Colne at the top of the table. We take 5 points from the game, 5 more than we picked up on the opening day.
Just as positive: My partner enjoyed the game and my 6 year old, who has shown no interest when I’ve brought her before, left asking if she could not only come again, but whether she could play. I’ll take her to junior training next week provided she hasn’t moved on to something else like unicorns or crisps by then.
One final note to mention the Middleton support, who were friendly, approachable and a credit to their club all afternoon. We’ll see you again soon.
Bacup away next week, who beat us by 30 runs at the Cliffe earlier this year. Me and the little man will be up there to report on what will be our first trip to Lanehead. I’m told it’s colder than Baxenden. Better wrap up.
On to the next one